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The Entangled Web Of Campaign Politics And The Prospects Of War With Iran

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse


Some might wonder why there is relatively more popular support among the Islamic Middle Eastern countries for Senator Obama's nomination for the presidency of the United States. In fact, Barack Obama has been attacked by his political opponents for being the beneficiary of support by the Palestinian Hamas, which is regarded here as a terrorist organization.


Obama is also favored in another country labeled by the United States as the most active supporter of terrorism, Iran.


The question is whether his relative popularity is due to his racial profile as not being a true-blue WASP, possibly his name or, perhaps, his somewhat less than 110% allegiance to the Israeli lobby and the Jewish state's mandates?


There is yet another possibility, and that is a preference by default. In other words, what Obama represents is the least objectionable candidate among the three, with John McCain being clearly seen as the most feared as a belligerent war monger who will continue the policies of the current administration, and Hillary Clinton for being viewed as far too beholden to the Jewish interests for her political successes as a senator and a presidential hopeful to refuse to put Israel's interests ahead of those of her own country.

Kam Zarrabi is the author of
In Zarathushtra's Shadow

Ironically, Mr. Obama has spent more time and energy than his rivals trying to emphasize his deepest loyalty to the Jewish interests and the state of Israel. To this day, however, his efforts have fallen short of convincing the diehard Zionists here and in Israel that he would endorse any and all decisions made by the Israeli regime, regardless of how those decisions might affect America's own best interests.


To read an article by a distinguished conservative activist addressing Mr. Obama's dilemma regarding this issue, please log on to my web page ( and click "Other".


There are two basic points to ponder here:


1-       Is Barack Obama truly a better candidate to resolve the US/Middle East tensions fairly and honorably through diplomacy?


2-       How would the powerful Israeli lobby and other Jewish and Zionist groups respond to an American administration that, in spite of these group's great propaganda efforts, might not view the interests of both nations as being one and the same at all times and in all cases?


President George W. Bush, in his recent visit to Israel to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish state, made a loaded political statement that defines his and John McCain's position. He said that there are some, clearly meaning Mr. Obama, who wrongly maintain that we could negotiate with the terrorists! He then compared Iran's President Ahmadinejad to Hitler.


The Israeli hawks, of course, salivate when they hear things like that. To the Zionist hardliners, "terrorists" comprise any group or state that opposes Israel's regional agendas, the same groups and states that the United States, by extension, also labels as terrorist.


This certainly implies that Mr. Obama, as he has already stated on many occasions, is ready to open negotiations with, for example, Iran, without any preconditions. To Mr. McCain who prefers to follow current administration's policies, as well as the Israeli hardliners' mandates of refusing to negotiate with "terrorists" , the only path is open warfare. Mrs. Clinton would consider negotiations but only under certain preconditions; in other words, negotiating, not as equals, but from a position of authority and dominance dictating the terms - a no-starter as far as the Iranians are concerned, and rightly so.


Here, Mr. Obama's position has much broader appeal among the war-torn Islamic populations of the Middle East. Will this prove to be Obama's Achilles' heel? Will the cautious endorsement by Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran as the lesser of the potential evils among the rivals for America's presidency prove as risqué for him as the endorsements by Reverend Jeremiah Wright or Louis Farrakhan? That will all depend on the voters and their perceptions of our failures or successes in our Middle East policies during George W. Bush's term.


Will Barack Obama be, first of all, willing, and secondly, capable of pursuing foreign policies that are aimed at procuring America's best strategic interests, whatever they might be? From what he has said while campaigning, he sounds as though he does have a fair understanding of the realities that we have to recognize and deal with. But if we could safely assume that his rivals have access to the same knowledge, his more candid revelation of his position regarding these issues might simply signal his lack of experience in the domain of foreign policy - realpolitik - and its established machinations.


On the other side of the planet, our designated antagonists like to see a determined Obama in the White House, a diplomat who might be able to bring about meaningful changes in how effective diplomacy is carried out, and not as a well-meaning but ineffective fool gushing with immature exuberance.


 Should Obama be our next Commander in Chief, the same inquisitors that have been scrutinizing his unquestioned commitment to Israeli interests will certainly redouble their efforts to guide America's policies in the Middle East into the same old channel, bypassing in one way or another the new president's stated commitments and preferences.


Thus far, no US administration has been able to sideline the passionate attachment to the Israeli interests, even when these interests have been in clear violation of international norms and, worse yet, America's own strategic interests and laws. President Carter has only been able to voice his honest opinions openly, as reflected in his book, Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid, years after leaving office.


Jimmy Carter, just as is the case with most critics of this blind love affair, is of the opinion that Israel's own honest best interests are being compromised by the hawkish policies of both the Labor and the Likud regimes.  While opposition to Israel's aggressive treatment of the Palestinians and expansion of its illegal settlements is openly voiced by many of Israel's own intellectuals and politicians, such voices are seldom heard here in the United States.


It is perhaps the hope that a President Obama might be able to focus America's efforts toward a fair and just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis or to some conciliatory rapprochement with America's designated enemies such as Iran, which our antagonists in the Islamic Middle East do not see in either Hillary Clinton or John McCain.  Most certainly, it is not his Islamic middle Name, Hussein, or the color of his skin that some believe might be taken for his understanding and sympathy for the plight of the underdog.


Ironically, one thing that seems to generate that sympathy among the region's Arab and Islamic populations is the very fact that the Jewish inquisitors show concerns about his total loyalty and commitment to their own cause.


Should Mr. Obama actually break his repeated vows of allegiance to the Israeli cause and attempt to enter any level of rapprochement with the likes of Iran, he will be facing tremendous challenges from the established power centers in Washington.


The first challenge will be to find ways to pacify, contain and defuse the Israeli regime's ace-up-its-sleeve, which is the option of attacking Iran "preemptively" in the guise of defending itself against a fictitious "existential threat" by a nuclear-armed enemy. Israel has already received the green light from the Vice President on more than one occasion, and has been more than encouraged by the President's recent remarks at the Israeli Knesset.


Failure to contain Israel would mean that the United States will be implicated directly in any military assault by the Jewish state upon the Islamic Republic of Iran, the outcome of which is sure to prove highly undesirable as far as the United States' interests are concerned, not to mention its disastrous results for the Iranian nation and the region as a whole.


Perhaps the best way to appease Israel and its staunch supporters here is to offer even broader economic, diplomatic and military support for the Jewish state and, more importantly, to step back from any pressure on Israel to commit itself to any compromises toward a peace settlement with the Palestinians.


This is what the Israeli government wants; a continuation and even an escalation of full scale support by the American administration, an open-ended postponement of any meaningful resolution of the Palestinian issues, non-stop expansion of illegal settlements and, ultimately, the total marginalization of any militant opposition to the Israel's policies.


Appeasement of Israel is the key that might ultimately stop the countdown to the Biblical Armageddon.


This is, in my opinion, why we have been observing a crescendo of hostile rhetoric out of Washington against Iran as we get closer to the end of George Bush's term in office. As far as the Israeli regime is concerned, its best opportunity to assure achieving its objectives is while the current American administration and its "decider" are in charge. The louder these totally unsubstantiated allegations against Tehran are voiced, the less likely that the Israelis might take matters into their own hands.


Both Washington and Tel Aviv know fully well that Iran is not now, and will not be in the future should it even achieve nuclear weapons capability, a realistic threat against Israel or the United States forces in the area, let alone America's mainland as some of the alarmists claim.


Keeping this charade going in the public domain serves two main objectives: First, maintaining this theatrical balancing act would, in the minds of the American people, earn the gratitude of the United States toward an ally that has refrained from taking a justifiable action to protect itself, now deserving of anything it could ask for to compensate for its self-sacrifice. Second, knowing that an American attack on the Iranian targets will have catastrophic consequences for all concerned, and understanding that a sudden change in the ongoing rhetoric against Iran would shock the American public and discredit the Republican administration beyond repair, the hope is to maintain the holding pattern until the baton is passed at the upcoming presidential elections. It would then be the new administration's cross to bear.


Once the Israelis are assured of all or even more than what they demand, there will be a gradual de-escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran. There is some evidence in the background of the political goings-on that might indicate such a turn around is already underway.


For the past several years, credible observers and journalist have been predicting an imminent military attack on Iran by the Unites States, with or without Israel. On several occasions a timetable was even set in these predictions. Such predictions have not only continued, but intensified in recent months as we approach the end of the current administration's term. World renowned investigative reporters such as Seymour Hersh, and experienced foreign policy observers like Scott Ritter among many others, consider an attack on Iran inevitable, definitely before the November elections.


If my analysis is correct, I insist, as I have done all this time, that an attack on Iran is not in the books. The only thing that might prove me wrong is the potential failure of Barack Obama and the new Democratic cabinet to come short of Israel's and its Zionist supporters' full expectations. Obama has been doing his best to sound as unyielding in his rhetoric regarding the Middle East and Iran as his opponents. While he talks about entering a dialog with America's (actually Israel's) antagonists, he never hesitates to announce his view that Iran is, in fact, the biggest threat to America's security in the region.


Does Barack Obama really think that Iran is a threat of any magnitude? He might be inexperienced in matters of foreign policy, but he is certainly not a gullible ignoramus. When he said recently in a short televised debate with John McCain that he did not believe Iran was as big a threat to America's security as was the former Soviet Union, Mr. McCain cringed in clear incredulity.  What a charade!


But does McCain truly believe that Iran is such a menace to American security and to peace in the Middle East? I doubt it very much. The guy might be an experienced manipulating politician as they all are, but I am sure he is far from being senile or plain dumb!


The question is, what could either McCain or Obama say publicly other than what they have that would not torpedo their chances in their campaign for presidency and, at the same time, prevent another regional catastrophe much worse than the quagmire we are in now? Of course, the tougher the rhetoric against the designated enemies, the better the results!


At the end, mature and sane diplomacy will hopefully win the day: the hardliner McCain, should he be the "decider", shall then credit this victory in avoiding another war to his unbending resolve, while Obama, as a negotiator, would go down in history as a capable president and a true diplomat. 


I also have no doubt that behind the doors negotiations have been and continue to be carried out between the antagonists. That has always been the case. The backdrop of hate speech, saber rattling, accusations and negative imageries makes it impossible to stage such discussions in the open.


The bottom line is, nobody would prefer death and destruction if issues of contention could be resolved in more peaceful ways. Who wouldn't prefer to carry out their own agendas in peace? The only problem is, without a high enough price to pay as a consequence, the stronger contender would inevitably press for advantage in any negotiation.


Is it that hard to understand why Iran is trying to demonstrate to its adversaries that they would indeed have a heavy price to pay if they insist on advancing from mere push to shove?


In the domain of realpolitik the principle of the Biblical Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have done unto you, is rephrased to, do onto others before they could do it unto you!


May sanity prevail.


Kam Zarrabi

Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He is available to conduct lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues, at formal and informal gatherings or academic centers anywhere in the country. To make the necessary arrangements, please contact him at More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at:


... Payvand News - 05/22/08 ... --

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